Chinnamasta is the Hindu Goddess of transformation. She is one of the Mahavidyas, the wisdom Goddesses, and is probably the most terrifying of them. She is depicted holding her own head, which she has just cut off.

Origin

Stories of her origin vary, but one relates that Parvati was bathing with two attendants, Jaya and Vijaya when the attendants asked the Goddess to satisfy their hunger. After putting them off several times, Parvati looked all around and then cut off her own head. Three streams of blood came from her neck—one went to the mouth of Jaya, one to the mouth of Vijaya, and the last to the mouth of Parvati herself. At this point, Parvati is transformed into the Goddess Chinnamasta, whose name literally means “severed head.” When they were satisfied, she put her head back on, became Parvati again, and went home. In other versions, the attendants are named Dakini and Varnini, and Chinnamasta is standing on a couple in the middle of having sex. The couple is Rati, Goddess of sexual desire, and her husband the Kama, God of love.

Iconography

  • Chinnamasta is depicted as a girl of sixteen years adorned with the garland of skulls and necklaces of bones. She wears on her naked body a serpent as the sacred thread (yajnopavita) and she has full breasts covered by lotus flowers and strings of beads. but the most gruesome aspect of her is that she has cut off her own head with a sword and holds in her hands the severed head as also the sword. The blood gushing out of her decapitated head sprouts in three jets. The central Jet streams into the mouth of her own head, usually held in her left hand, while the other two jets fall into the mouths of her two companions Dakini and Varnini – standing on her either side
  • She stands against the backdrop of thunder and lightning with her head in hand. She is not dead but is said to be in a state of Yamanaka, free from human follies, distractions, and sensations of pain etc. The beheaded -head of Chinnamasta is shown ecstatically drinking the central stream of blood flowing out of her headless trunk. It displays three eyes wide open with joy and a lovely face lit up with a beatific smile. The hair on the head is disheveled and adorned with fragrant flowers. The more amazing sight is that headless naked trunk of Chinnamasta is standing upon a handsome couple engaged in sex in the viparita-maithuna posture (the female on top of her male partner)stretched over a lotus flower. The scene of the activity is a cremation ground set against the background of hills, river, flowers amidst thunder and lightning. The loving couple in each other’s arms, engrossed in sex and blissfully unaware of anything outside their act, are identified & the Kama or Manamatha the god of desire (like eros) and his companion rati the very act of sex.
  • There are also depictions where Chinnamasta is riding over a supine Shiva. A couple of Jackals watch the scene with little interest. Chinnamasta is described as a goddess red as hibiscus flower, bright as the rising sun. She is usually pictured in red and sometimes in blue. .There are also depictions of her with four arms and without the couple engaged in sex. The head is decorated with a well-crafted diadem, as also ear and a nose ring. Chinnamasta, in a single frame, makes a stunning presentation of varying and conflicting aspects of life and death; of self-destruction while nourishing others; of death by violence and enjoyable sex; of gory violence spilling blood and smiling blissful face; death and destruction placed next to creation; of the joy of transcending the body and not the pain of losing it; and of giving up the ego to attain wisdom. It combines in itself the elements of heroism(vira), terror (bhayanaka) and eroticism (srungara) and portrays, in its own manner, a composite picture of life where all life events become intrinsic parts of the unified scheme. It enfolds the entire multiplicity of life. Chinnamasta in her energetic form shows the power of transformation in action.

Taken all together, the symbolism in Chinnamasta’s depiction represents the transcendence of the body. Standing on the couple having sex, she has mastered the physical body, and then by cutting off her head, she frees the mind. Her happy face shows the joy that she feels in bringing together life, sex, and death—three forms of transformation, three parts of the cycle.

Chinnamasta Effect Though Rahu

  • Accidents, snake bites, thefts, robberies, attacks, treachery etc unexpected sudden events are due to her effect through Rahu.
  • Rahu has heavily influenced middle-east and European cultures and their religious practices.
  • Languages like Arabic, Urdu, which are written and read from right to left are due to its effect.
  • Overnight stardom, fame and money and sudden loss of everything is also due to its effect.
  • Jail life, foreign travel, business in foreign countries, income in foreign currencies, herbal cure, preparing medicines etc is under her control through Rahu.

Profession Controlled By Chinnamasta

Doctors, Surgeons, chemists (especially organic chemistry), geologists, fisheries, plastic, fiber technology, tyres, rubber, Tar, molasses, alcohol, liquid gas, refined petrol, freezers, refrigerators, cold storages, engines, electrical appliances, tanning technology, speculations, gambling, share brokers etc controlled by her power.

Worship Chinnamasta

Chinnamasta belongs to kali-kula the family of kali. she is visualized as residing in a red sun orb (Surya Mandala)in all her glory. Given her fierce form, her worship rituals follow the tantric Vama-marga the left-handed path involving Pancha-makaaras the five Ms of Madya (liquor), mamasa(meat), Matsya(fish), mudra (hallucinating substance) and maithuna (sex). The worship is carried out in the dead of the night in the cremation grounds.

Because of her ferocious nature and the dangers following improper worship, it is said, only the brave ones (vira) should dare venture her worship through Vama-marga. Tantric aspiring for siddhis (magical powers) or victory over rivals by casting spells or by causing harm usually take up these extreme rituals. It is said, in the olden times, the soldiers were initiated into the Chinnamasta cult to enable them to gain self-control and to imbibe in them the spirit of self-sacrifice and the courage to face death without fear. Chinnamasta in this context is invoked as Ranjaitri (victorious in war) and celebrated as for her prowess in battles.

As regards the householders, they are cautioned and advised to contemplate on Chinnamasta only in her abstract esoteric form without being distracted by her fierce iconography. Her worship through softer methods is said to yield: health; wealth; freedom from fear; ability to influence family, friends, women, enemies, and rulers; and liberation.

Sexuality

There are two contrasting interpretations of Chhinnamasta with regard to sexual desire. The image of Chhinnamasta standing on a copulating couple of Kamadeva (literally, “sexual desire”) and Rati (“sexual intercourse”) is interpreted by some scholars as a symbol of a person’s control over sexual desire, while others interpret the goddess as being the embodiment of sexual energy.

Her names, such as Yogini and Madanatura (“one who has control of Kama”), convey her yogic control over sexual energy.

Her triumphant stance trampling the love-deity couple denotes victory over desire and samsara (the cycle of birth, death, and rebirth).

Images in which Chhinnamasta is depicted sitting on Kamadeva-Rati in a non-suppressive fashion suggest that the couple is giving sexual energy to the goddess. Images, where Shiva is depicted in coitus with Chhinnamasta, are associated with this interpretation. Chhinnamasta’s names like Kameshwari (“goddess of desire”) and Ratiragavivriddhini (“one who is engrossed in the realm of Rati – [copulation or sexual desire]”) and the appearance of Klim – the common seed syllable of Kamadeva and Krishna – in her mantra support this interpretation.

Her lolling tongue also denotes sexual hunger.

Temples of Chinnamasta

There are many different temples of Chinamasta in different Hindu countries. Some of themare described below.

Chinamasta Bhagawati

Chinamasta Bhagwati is a famous temple and Shakti Peethas in Eastern Nepal. It is situated in Chinnamasta VDC, Saptari, 10 km from Rajbiraj and also near to Indian Border. This Temple is the main attraction for Nepal and Indian Pilgrims. People from all over Nepal and India come here in Bada Dashain and other festivals. Some thousands of goats are sacrificed here during Dashain.

The Chintpurni

The Chintpurni (“She who fulfills one’s wishes”), Himachal Pradesh temple of Chhinnamastika, is one of the Shakti Peethas (considered the holiest goddess temples) and is where the goddess Sati’s forehead (mastaka) fell. Here, Chhinnamasta is interpreted as the severed-headed one as well as the foreheaded-one. The central icon is a Pindi, an abstract form of Devi. While householders worship the goddess as a form of the goddess Durga, ascetic sadhus view her as the Tantric severed-headed goddess.

Chhinnamasta Temple in Jharkhand

Another important shrine is the Chhinnamasta Temple near Rajrappa in Jharkhand, where a natural rock covered with an ashtadhatu (eight-metal alloy) kavacha (cover) is worshipped as the goddess. Though well-established as a center of Chhinnamasta by the 18th century, the site is a popular place of worship among tribals since ancient times. Kheer and animal sacrifice are offered to the goddess.

Chhinnamasta temple at Bishnupur

Chhinnamasta Temple dedicated to Goddess Chinnamasta is a Hindu pilgrimage center and located in Rajrappa, in Ramgarh district of Jharkhand. The place attracts devotees from all parts of Bihar, Jharkhand and West Bengal.

The main attraction of the Chhinnamasta (also known as Chinnamastika) temple is the headless deity of Goddess Chinnamasta which stands on the body of Kamdeo and Rati in the lotus bed. The Chhinnamasta temple is popular for its Tantrik style of architectural design. Apart from the main temple, there are ten temples of various gods and goddesses such as the Surya (Sun God), Hanuman and Lord Shiva.

The goddess Manikeswari

The goddess Manikeswari, a popular goddess in Odisha, is often identified with Chhinnamasta. Chhinnamasta’s shrines are also found in Nepal’s Kathmandu Valley. A shrine in the Changu Narayan Temple holds a 13th-century icon of Chinnamasta. A chariot festival in the Nepali month of Baishakh is held in honor of the goddess.

Other Temples

A shrine dedicated to Chhinnamasta was built by a Tantric sadhu in the Durga Temple complex, Ramnagar, near Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh, where tantrikas worship her using corpses. Kanpur, Uttar Pradesh, has a shrine of the goddess that is open only three days a year, around Chaitra Navaratri. Her shrines are also situated in the Kamakhya Temple complex, Assam and Basukinath temple complex, Jharkhand along with other Mahavidyas.

Yoni  Tantra

The Yoni Tantra is a religious text from Bengal (11th century or earlier) mainly concerned with describing the Yoni Puja, or “Mass of the Vulva”; one of the secret and esoteric Tantric rituals dedicated to creating – and consuming – the sacred fluid which is called yonitattva.

According to this text, sexual union (maithuna) is an indispensable part of Tantric ritual and may be performed by and with women between the age of twelve and sixty years, married or not, except for a girl not yet menstruating. The text specifies nine types of women (navakanya) who may perform sexual rituals, yet explicitly forbids an incestuous mother/son constellation.

In general, however, this Tantra does not impose many restrictions on the practitioner (sadhaka) who is dedicated to the Yoni Puja. It advocates use of the five makara and leaves the choice of partner, place and time very much up to the practitioner. Nevertheless, the male sadhaka is explicitly admonished “never to ridicule a yoni” and to treat all women well and never to be offensive toward them.

About sadiksha

Namaste! I am a Nepali Art Dealer specialized in Mandala and Thangka paintings. I love to write articles about the monastic culture of the Himalayas. If you like this post or have any question please leave me a comment or use the contact page to reach me.

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